For some reason, the afternoon and evening meals get all the glory around the holidays.
Everybody talks about Christmas dinner, and for sure, a big festive dinner around a holiday table is worth playing up. But in the mad dash to the tree, a lot of us overlook another important holiday meal.
I’m looking at you, Christmas breakfast.
I grew up going to my grandparents on Christmas morning, where my grandma would prepare biscuits and gravy for the dozens of us who’d pack into the cabin where they lived in rural Kentucky. To this day, I love biscuits and gravy on holidays and other special occasions.
And although it’s often skipped or not mentioned in the gift-opening frenzy, I wondered what traditions other food lovers and industry folks in Louisville might have when it comes to breakfast on Christmas morning. Here are seven ideas, and a few recipes, that may inspire your own Christmas breakfast traditions.
Eggs Benedict and mimosas
“I absolutely love the holidays, and my family takes Christmas Eve/Day meals very seriously. We have a long-standing tradition of getting up early and juicing in-season oranges and grapefruits for mixing with champagne. I literally can’t remember the last Christmas we didn’t start this before even considering opening presents.
Additionally, we almost always have eggs Benedict the long way — poaching eggs takes more time, but it’s worth it. We save a little time making the hollandaise in the blender, using good Kentucky ham and store-bought muffins sprinkled with smoked paprika and parsley. That’s our tradition!” — Max Balliet, Pizza Lupo, 1540 Frankfort Ave.
Biscuits, gravy and eggs
“Fingers are always crossed that mom makes biscuits and gravy and eggs. Years ago, I would always pick up Cinnabons for the morning breakfast. As far as drinks go, if I could get my tap water changed to Champagne, well that’s exactly what I’d do.” — Michael Crouch, private chef.
Christmas morning cinnamon rolls
“We always have Christmas morning cinnamon rolls. The cinnamon rolls can be stuffed with whatever we have laying around, from brown sugar and cinnamon, crushed Oreos or Nutella. Having a fresh batch of cinnamon rolls in the morning with some coffee is my favorite Christmas morning activity, plus we treat ourselves to some bottomless mimosas all morning, as well!
Something else that my family has started doing is making a huge charcuterie board (everyone brings a little something special), and we snack on that all day long. Dinner is usually a large pasta bake of some sort.” — Emily Keller, Tastee Treats Lou.
Buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy
“Our family’s big Christmas celebration is on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, everyone is sleeping in a bit and taking their time. A few years back, I woke up just a bit early on Christmas morning and decided I wanted biscuits and gravy, and now it’s a tradition.
For me, there is something very relaxing about making biscuits and gravy, and it’s maybe the most comforting meal I can think of. Use your favorite country sausage but I highly recommend Jake’s Country Sausage. I like Jake’s so much I smuggled it to Baker City, Oregon, once for Christmas breakfast.” — Andrew McCabe, bar Vetti, 727 E. Market St.
Christmas ham and cheese croissants
“When I think of Christmas breakfast, I think about waking up in Sydney, Australia, (where I grew up) and the smell of Christmas ham and cheese croissants that my mum had just baked in the oven.
I like to honor the tradition, but with my own spin, using my favorite thinly sliced Kentucky Country Ham from Newsom’s with Swiss Gruyère from our cheese shop and croissants made fresh from Butchertown Grocery Bakery, 743 E. Main St.
Having one alongside a mimosa is a great way to kickstart the holiday, followed by opening presents and then some backyard cricket or a dip in the pool.” — Brent Mills, Harvey’s Cheese, Logan Street Market, 1001 Logan St.
Apricot nut bread
“I have eaten this apricot nut bread that was my grandmother’s recipe every Christmas morning since I could eat solid food. We have this Shadle family tradition of opening gifts very slowly. I mean hours. The first year Bruce [Ucan of Mayan Cafe] came home for Christmas with my sister, he was like ‘how are we still opening presents, and it’s been six hours? All you guys eat is this apricot bread and tons of coffee.’” — Anne Shadle, Mayan Cafe, 813 E. Market St.
Panettone, a classic sweet bread originating in Italy, is the epitome of Christmas morning decadence because it tastes like Christmas in bread form.
But what exactly is this sweet Italian bread? It’s not exactly a home baking kind of project for most of us. At Wiltshire Bakery and Cafe in Louisville, it’s made by the bread team, lead Cheniqua Breaux.
“As the story goes, Panettone originated in Northern Italy, specifically Milan, almost two centuries ago. … [it’s] a light, leavened bread, almost pillow-like in texture. Made with the magic of extremely lively yeast, the rich dough is composed of wheat flour, eggs, butter, sugar and dried fruit,” says Kari Smith at Wiltshire.
“The process is no small feat and takes about two to three days. Panettone is known to have a mind of its own and requires a knack for controlling the temperature, acidity and fermentation process for the dough.
“After the bread is baked into a beautiful brown-shaped dome, we punch two wooden skewers in the bottom of the molds and invert them upside down to cool. This process ensures the soufflé-like dough doesn’t collapse and ruin all of those hard-earned air pockets.” — Kari Smith, Wiltshire Bakery and Cafe, 901 Barret Ave.